Eric D. Schabell: November 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Some tips on how to cleanup iPhoto

I am not a power Macbook user when it comes to the i[fill-in-the-Apple-application-here] anything. I am a simple user with over 5 years of pictures on my Macbook. So when I noticed the iPhoto application was really getting slow and that all my disk space was about gone (80GB!), it was time to look deeper into this.

Just a few tips here, but they radically cleaned up my iPhoto disk waste:
  1. Empty the trash - seems like a no-brainer, but I was unaware that iPhoto had it's own trash bin. Just follow the menu entry to clean out those deleted pictures: iPhoto -> Empty Trash. This got me over 9 GB of disk space back.
  2. iPhoto Diet - this is a very nice tool which will allow you to scan your entire library of pictures for more iPhoto nonsense (chuff, duplicates, and even more stuff you don't want to know about). 
This second tip took some time as I have something like 3500 plus photos. But patience pays off and I now have gotten rid of an amazing amount of crap in iPhoto. It even performs better now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Open source expert panel - the sinking ship metaphor

As previously stated, awhile back I was added to the Computable Open Source Expert Panel. This week they published two different follow up articles on the latest round of layoffs at Sun (sorry, they are in Dutch):

1) Experts: Sun moet stoppen met koppelverkoop
2) Experts: Sun blijft zwalken

A bit of background story here on the photo posted here from the second article. My approach to commenting on this topic was to do my best to come up with a visual aspect. A perfect way to visualize something is through a good metaphor, like the leaky oil tanker I used in my comments. This seemed to work, as this is the theme in the second article. Spot on!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Creating an ISO image from DVD on macbook

When copying a DVD on my macbook I was sure there must be some way to do it without buying software or having to download lots of new burning applications. Here are the simple steps needed to do it:

# insert DVD and lookup the device your DVD is mounted on,
# (partial output shown here, look for the Name field).
$ drutil status
 Vendor   Product           Rev 

           Type: DVD-ROM              Name: /dev/disk2

# unmount the disk.
$ diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2
Disk /dev/disk2 unmounted

# create a local iso file from the DVD.
$ dd if=/dev/disk2 of=mydvd.iso bs=2048

# you can test the iso file with 'hdid mydvd.iso'
# and/or burn it by inserting a blank dvd and burn
# the iso using Disk Utility app.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Linux World 2008 Jaarbeurs Utrecht

Today I gave my talk on Open Source at SNS Bank that I announced earlier, at the Dutch Linux World 2008 in Utrecht. The turnout was around 50-60 persons and the location was big enough for 200 or more. Kind of a strange feeling that you are talking to an empty room, but there was plenty of interaction and questions with the public throughout the session.

After the session I was approached by a number of persons asking to be provided with a copy of the presentation. I understood that they would all be put online, but I can't find anything about it on the Linux World 2008 site. Until it shows up somewhere else, you can get the PDF of the presentation here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

JFall 2008 presentation and conference

As I previously announced in an earlier posting, I would be presenting a session based on my accepted paper today at JFall 2008.

It was quit a bit of fun and there were around 50-60 persons attending my session. Many questions were asked, but I was guilty of encouraging these questions with some nice gadgets provided by the SNS Bank.

You should be able to find the session over at the JFall 2008 site in December, but for now you can get the PDF presentation here.

Tomorrow I will be presenting a more Open Source focused presentation over at Linux World 2008 in the Jaarbeurs Utrecht.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Should I know you

I was approached today; "Do I know you...", with a pause followed by "...should I know you?"

It really struck me as having a profound difference in meaning.

The first line is a standard way to open the conversation in English speaking countries if you just can't quite grasp the person out of the depths of your memory. You have the feeling that you have met before, but are unable to put a name on the face. It tends to put the person being asked a bit on the defensive, especially if they don't recognize the one approaching you either.

The second is a more subtle take on the same line, putting it all in a more gentle and positive light. It puts the person being asked at ease which starts off the ensuing conversation more smoothly. It takes a certain amount of poise and style to project that something special that nudges a person into thinking that they should be able to put a name to your face.

I hope I can one day project that type of warmth to those that approach me...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

May you live in interesting times

As Terry Pratchet said in one (or more) of his books as the ultimate good wish you can put on someone you meet, "May you live in interesting times..."

We certainly do! I am living overseas from the US and have gotten up in the middle of the night to watch the results of the Presidential race this year. I am not much of a political animal, but I can't help but loving to watch historical moments live. This night there will be one no matter who wins, either a first black President or our first ever woman Vice-President.

What has been amazing me the most tonight is that CNN, the most informative news site you can find on the USA, has us completely plugged into this event. From the overviews on the site, the running numbers, and live feeds about everything you can imagine. I am most taken with the live McCain campaign headquarters video stream right now as they have live music from Hank Williams Jr and other country music artists. Over at Obama campaign headquarters (you can select from diverse steaming links) we are being shown the park in Chicago where the crowds are waving flags and awaiting their candidates arrival.

What amazing uses the technology tooling is being put to use for these days to keep us updated on all the latest news (as I switch over to the live stream at CNN election headquarters to view the latest numbers).  No matter what the outcome is tonight, currently Obama is up in the early popular vote count by 1%, we do live in interesting times...

Monday, November 3, 2008

CAiSE09 chapter proposal accepted: Empowering Full Scale STP with BPM

"We are pleased to inform you that your chapter proposal Empowering Full Scale Straight Through Processing with BPM has been selected to be worked out as a full chapter for Practice-driven Research on Enterprise Transformation."

Those magic words never get old!

My proposed paper accepted to CAiSE'09 conference (Computer Aided Information Systems Engineering) which will be held in Amsterdam. The CAiSE'09 conference will also host the PRET workshop (Practice-driven Research on Enterprise Transformation). This PRET workshop was my target and I am glad to have found a home for this long running project which was submitted to BPM 2008.

Next deadline is to submit a final copy of the paper for evaluation by January 1, 2009. I will post the draft version as soon as I get it sorted out.

As one of the larger Dutch financial institutions, SNS Bank in the Netherlands has made a strategic decision to empower her customers on-line by fully automating her business processes. The ability to facilitate the customer is achieved by applying Business Process Modelling (BPM) techniques in her existing selling channels. Both the publicly available and internal processes are being revamped to provide the customer with an online full scale Straight Through Processing (STP) experience. This extreme use of online STP is the trigger in a shift that is of crucial importance to cost effective banking in an ever turbulent and changing financial world. The key elements used in implementing these goals continue to be (Free) Open Source Software (FOSS), Service-oriented architecture (SOA), and BPM. In this paper we will present an industr1y application describing the efforts of the SNS Bank to make the change from traditional banking services to a full scale STP and BPM driven Do It Yourself bank.

We will begin with a look at the the components used to implement the case study, a project entitled STP Purchasing. The basis has been laid in a FOSS environment with which the first SOA services were constructed and an initial selling channel was modelled for implementation within our chosen BPM framework. The issues encountered along the way to completion of this project will be discussed to provide some insights into our first experiences in this solution space.

We will then take a closer look at the positive impact made through the use of full scale STP and BPM. Not only will we present extensive empirical data resulting from the STP Purchasing project running in production over the last year, but we will also examine the effects this has had on customer contact and the development process as a whole.

As can be expected, there always will be challenges to be met when such an expansive shift in strategy is being implemented and we take a tour of the impact this has in both the business and technical realms.

Finally, we present our conclusions and detail some of the steps that are being taken (or are in the planning) as a result of our initial experiences with STP Purchasing.

Strategic Architeture blog launched

A shameless plug for a friend of mine that has launched the new Strategic Architecture blog. A central discussion site for bringing together the two worlds of Strategic Management and Enterprise Architecture.

The goal is to publish thoughts on:
  • strategic management
  • enterprise architecture 
  • the relationship between these worlds
  • research results
  • case studies 
  • experiences in practice
  • references to interesting materials (such as weblogs, books, and articles)
Stop on by and drop a comment on some of the interesting articles there.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Composite Business Services in jBPM project

While engaging in a jBPM process improvement project, I encountered the need for Composite Business Services. This is where it starts to get interesting, when you try to make the step from Basic Services and Business Services up to the level of integration that includes Composite Business Services.

Once you drop this word it seems that the existing SOA layer which contains both elementary Basic Services (think of transactions to backend systems) and Business Services (think of services that make use of several basic services) should be ideally leveraged by plugging them together in new services. You would think so, right?

Well there seems to be some reluctance to this step, so I wanted to dig around a bit to see what I can find out and here are the resulting types of services:
  1. composite applications that offer services
  2. composite (business) services
First a working definition for these terms:

Composite Applications
In computing, the term composite application expresses a perspective of software engineering that defines an application built by combining multiple services. A composite application consists of functionality drawn from several different sources within a service oriented architecture (SOA). The components may be individual web services, selected functions from within other applications, or entire systems whose outputs have been packaged as web services (often legacy systems). Composite applications often incorporate orchestration of "local" application logic to control how the composed services interact with each other to produce the new, derived functionality.

Composite Business Services
A Composite Business Service is a collection of related and integrated business services that provide a specific business solution and support a business process built on a SOA.

These both apply very well to the working environment for the project being discussed here. As I am not focusing on Composite Applications as a part of my solution space I will concentrate solely on Composite Business Services.

The Composite Business Services idea seems to be mainstream for leveraging existing SOA layers. A source in soa world states, "Composite services encompassing mainframe transactions, data and application logic is the future of integrating big iron into service-oriented architecture (SOA)..." and that companies bought into the composite services concept because it allows you to " the right services, not just build little bits and pieces that happen to be Web service enabled...". This seems to match perfectly with our project goals, providing integration for more than just the little bits and pieces.

IBM also provides us with a discussion on Composite Business Services, states that "The foundation of CBSs is service-oriented architecture (SOA), which breaks down business applications and processes into component parts (business services), which can be combined and recombined, very fast (thanks to business and technology standards), to create new applications and processes." This is further associated with the metaphor of building prefabricated building where reusage of standard components is the way of working.

The conclusions I draw from browsing the available SOA literature (abet, rather briefly) is that this is the next logical step is to migrate from Business Services to Composite Business Services. Also rather surprisingly, I did not really encounter any warnings or danger signs with regards to adding Composite Business Services to an existing SOA layer. When a move has been made to add Composite Business Services, there seems to be no limit to the amount of reusage you can get out of such an SOA layer.*

* (Of course I could be very wrong, so feel free to point me in the right direction should I really have missed something fundamental.)